Professionalism and clinical leadership

Both are core principles within the Role of the Doctor statement.

Professionalism is central to the NZMA’s work via the Code of Ethics and our advocacy activities, and professional regulation is likely to feature in 2015 if the review of the HPCA Act is progressed.

Professionalism describes the skills, attitudes and behaviours we expect from individuals during the practice of their profession. It includes concepts such as maintenance of competence, ethical behaviour, integrity, honesty, altruism, compassion, service to others, adherence to professional standards, justice, respect for others, and self-regulation. External challenges to professionalism include policy and management influence (bureaucratisation), commercialism and systems that erode clinical autonomy. Internal challenges include the willingness to uphold the professional concepts noted above and addressing unprofessional behaviour.

The Government’s In Good Hands report (2009) signalled a desire to improve clinical leadership and clinical governance in the health system. Clinical leadership encompasses national influencers, institutional leaders, service leaders and frontline clinicians who are leaders during the course of their clinical work. Clinical leadership is most effective when clinicians are the key drivers for change. In addition to leadership role opportunities, enablers of clinical leadership include the nurturing of prospective leaders and support from peers. Barriers can include lack of time and resources, organisational culture, lack of meaningful influence, lack of incentives and scepticism.

  • The NZMA has a role in supporting clinical leaders and ensuring that clinical leadership is embedded meaningfully in the health system and enabled across all of the domains noted above.